James Mtume, known to most as Mtume died over the weekend of unknown causes at the age of 76. Famed for his mid-1970s tenure with Miles Davis, Philadelphia-born Mtume was the son of ''Little Bird'' sax legend Jimmy Heath who died in 2020. The percussionist-to-be was brought up by his mother and his step-father James “Hen Gates” Forman.
Mtume's career spanned playing percussion on his uncle drummer Tootie Heath's album Kawaida and with his own group Mtume Umoja Ensemble releasing Land of the Blacks in 1972 through much later on to producing funk and writing for film.
His four-year tenure with Miles Davis from 1971 made his name on albums such as On the Corner and revered live albums recorded in Japan Agharta and Pangaea. Get Up WIth It includes a track Mtume plays on that bears his name.
Other notable 1970s appearance include on the 1974-released Blue Note album Asante with the former John Coltrane pianist McCoy Tyner. Mtume later ventured extensively into funk and R&B with his band Mtume with 1983 track 'Juicy Fruit' the standout track later sampled by the Notorious B.I.G. Mtume also co-wrote with Reggie Lucas, produced and performed on the Stephanie Mills top 10 pop hit 'Never Knew Love Like This Before' that charted in 1980.